Saturday, 21 June 2014

IFTTT - Blogger + Evernote

I've not posted here for a while and this is very much a trial. I've been messing about with the IFTTT service which essentially allows you to "pull" information from various sources and bring them together into what for me is a much more useful format. That more useful format is Evernote, because I can search it and filter it. Facebook and Twitter in particular make it very difficult to find your own material some way down the line. If, 18 months down the line, I want to know when I bumped into Freddie, which I mentioned on Facebook at the time, I just can't find that easily. With the data in Evernote I simply search the "2014" notebook for "Freddie" and bingo, its there.

I'm using Evernote to keep a diary/journal which I'm hoping will become increasingly valuable as time goes on. I also post material from time to time to Facebook, Twitter and to this Blog. It struck me that IFTTT could be set up to collect any material I publish from these three sources and add all the postings to the Evernote page in use for my daily diary.

I reckon if I "point" all these feeds to an Evernote note called "Today's Diary" everything will appear in there from whatever source, all in chronological order. Because all this information is then in Evernote it will be extremely easy to tag/filter/search and all I will have to do at the end of the day is change the name of the "Today's Diary" note in Evernote to say 21 June 2014 at the end of the day and then it will then be all ready for the next day's material.

Seems to me like this will be the best way of getting a diary to autocomplete itself to a great extent! Anyway, this post should appear in my Evernote diary for today without any further intervention from me, all I have o do is click the "Publish" button. That's the theory anyway! :-)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Family Fun Cycle Event - Hulne Park - Alnwick

Some video material shot during yesterdays lovely Family Fun Cycle Event in Hulne Park in Alnwick which I hope people will enjoy. I've tried to include some of the lovely scenery of the park but mainly I hope the riders (and runners!) will have fun trying to spot themselves making their way around the circuit.

If you saw me as you rode around you are likely to be in there somewhere!  The video is best viewed directly on YouTube in HD, either in 1080p or 720p. The event was arranged in support of Hospice Care Northumberland, was held by kind permission of His Grace The Duke of Northumberland and was supported by Alnwick Cycling Club.

Please feel free to share!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Puerto de Pollensa Video Clips

Just spent a bit of time pulling together some video clips shot in Puerto de Pollensa from the last holiday Lorena and I were on. If you haven't been this is a really lovely place to stay and if you are a cyclist it's probably about as nice as it gets. I've never ridden anywhere where the motorists are so considerate, highly recommended.

The Hotel Galeon (start of first clip below) is I believe where Bradley Wiggins likes to stay when he is out there either on holiday or training and Tolo's Bar is frequented by hundreds of cyclists, one of Wiggo's yellow Pinarellos from the 2012 TdF can be seen in the back of the cafe, along with other memorabilia.

Videos best viewed on YouTube in HD.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Majorca 2014 - TVCC - Video

Just uploaded the latest video shot in Majorca in April 2014 on the Tyneside Vagabonds Cycling Club trip. This was an excellent trip, staying at the Aparthotel Duva and Spa in Puerto de Pollensa. No video shot from the bike this year so this is all social stuff, happy memories!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Far Too Close For Comfort

This is a personal message to the lorry driver that overtook me the other day at great speed and far too close. As you can see from the video the oncoming traffic was also forced over into the gutter to avoid the oncoming lorry, this kind of driving is just inexcusable.

There is no doubt in my mind that all it would have taken would have been a pothole or a wobble and I would have been killed or very badly injured.

As you can see from the article below pothole related fatalities are all too common and combined with this kind of inconsiderate driving the odds seem to be increasingly stacked against the cyclist.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Latest Chroma Key Experiment

Still continuing with my experiments trying to get the best I can out of this very simple single light setup. It seems that as long as the movement in the background video clip does not involve all of the frame the video will still play well and retain facial detail when uploaded to and processed by YouTube.

The chroma key was performed with simple small green screen and single light located above the video camera at about 30 degrees. In this clip I experimented with altering the background "focus" using a changing gaussian blur on a low setting to try to give the impression of a shallower camera depth of field. I think the best "depth of field" effect is achieved with a very small degree of background blur but it seems to work nicely if the shot starts and finishes fully sharp.

I also experimented on this clip with a shape mask on the subject's face to slightly alter the colour without changing the rest of the scene. The video is best watched on YouTube at either 720p or 1080p.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Chroma Key & YouTube - Movement in Background Clips

I have been doing quite a bit of experimentation with chroma keying in Final Cut Pro X and I have been uploading the results of my experiments to YouTube. The first video I uploaded was a simple video of my talking head and I used a segment of cycling video shot in Majorca as the backdrop. Having selected a 30 second clip to use which was shot in front of a cheap green screen I removed the background in Final Cut Pro X, added the cycling background and produced a short master file.

Even this short file was pretty large so I compressed it using Apple Compressor down to a manageable size, the resulting file was an MP4 file, ideal for uploading to YouTube. Both the master file and the compressed file played perfectly well and the detail in the subjects face was well maintained in both these files.

I uploaded this file to YouTube and I was disappointed when I viewed the file to see that a lot of processing artefacts were visible and the quality of the video was greatly degraded in comparison to the master file and the compressed file that had been uploaded, the video is shown below:

Having reviewed this video I thought that the problem might be something to do with the settings I had used in the file compression process so I tried a number of different options to improve things but all of my efforts were in vain. The resulting videos were perfectly Ok until I uploaded them to YouTube, once YouTube processed them for display the results were poor.

After much thought I wondered whether the degradation was being caused by the degree of overall movement in the frame and whether this was in some way having an impact on the quality, possibly as a result of bitrate restrictions on the material in terms of the YouTube processing scheme. Anyway, the way to try this out seemed to be to keep everything the same but just to replace the background with a static image which is what I did. The results are below and the quality difference is startling. Again the settings for generating the master file and the compression settings to produce the MP4 file for upload were unchanged.

The next thing to try was to see whether a background image containing some movement could be used without degrading things seriously so I again replaced the background, this time with a scene from Switzerland where the landscape itself remained static but there was quite a bit of movement within the frame, in this case a band of school children passing by. As you can see below the quality was maintained as long as the majority of the scene was static.

So, those were my little experiments. From the above I have concluded that if the destination of a video is YouTube and if a chroma key technique has been used the final online results will be better if the majority of the background material is generally static and that backgrounds where all of the scene is in motion should be avoided. The differences between the above videos are still more apparent when viewed in the larger player on YouTube.

I'm no expert for sure but that's how it looks to me!